Microfinance

Community Loans: Part I

Microfinance is a term to describe the broad umbrella of financial services to people without access to a traditional banking system.  Microfinance institutions (MFIs) provide these types of services, which include microcredit, insurance (health, life, crop), savings accounts, remittances, and others.  Most MFIs rely on social collateral for repayment, which, in turn, is dependent on the strength of the community.  The community is at the center of the mission of microfinance, and some of the most interesting services offered by MFIs are aimed at making the community better as a whole. Villages served by NWTF frequently support a single industry.  A community on the water might derive its livelihood from fishing or oyster farming.  Similarly, a community in the middle of a rice field s likely to revolve around rice farming.  The NWTF members in the community either have businesses in the industry (i.e. operating a fishing boat or renting crab nets) or supporting the industry (sari-sari store, buy-and-sell, used clothing).  In these cases, the health of the community is directly tied to the strength of the industry.  This is where community-based loans are useful. (more…)